Construction Job Openings Rise in May, But Long-Run Trend is Declining
The count of open, unfilled jobs for the overall economy moved lower in May, falling to 9.8 million. While ongoing tight labor market conditions have likely confirmed one to two more Fed rate hikes through the start of the fall, the JOLTS survey is another data point indicating an ongoing, but gradual, cooling of macro conditions.
The count of open jobs was 11.4 million a year ago in May 2022. The count of total job openings will continue to fall in 2023 as the labor market softens and unemployment rises. From a monetary policy perspective, ideally the count of open, unfilled positions slows to the 8 million range in the coming quarters as the Fed’s actions cool inflation.
The construction labor market saw an increase for job openings in May, although this occurred off of downwardly revised April estimates. The count of open construction jobs increased from a revised reading of 347,000 in April to 366,000 in May. These data come after a data series high of 488,000 in December 2022. The overall trend is one of cooling for open construction sector jobs as the housing market slows and backlog is reduced, with a notable uptick in month-to-month volatility since late last year.
The construction job openings rate increased from 4.2% in April to 4.4% in May. The recent trend of these estimates points to the construction labor market having peaked in 2022 and is now entering a stop-start cooling stage as the housing market adjusts to higher interest rates.
NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz provides more analysis in this Eye on Housing post.